As South Africa finally eases its unpopular inbound unabridged birth certificate (UBC) requirements for minors, which have been detrimental to tourism, Namibia is now reinforcing the implementation of UBC requirements for minors travelling to and from its borders.
The Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has warned, in a new official release sent out on April 24, that children under the age of 18 travelling to and from Namibia must carry original or certified full birth certificates in addition to their passports.
The South African travel and tourism industry has been fighting against this very requirement for three years. The industry’s victory in November, when the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) finally eased the documentary requirements for foreign children entering South Africa, was short-lived when the DHA immediately issued a contradictory travel advisory that caused airlines to continue denying boarding to minors without certificates for five months after the change was published in the Government Gazette.
However June Crawford, CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa) confirmed this week that Iata was now advising check-in staff not to request birth certificates from minors who have South African visas or who are exempt from visas if travelling with their parents with the same surname. This change came about after the DHA issued a new travel advisory on April 2, which clearly and unambiguously states that only a passport is needed for children under 18 if they travel with parents on a visa-exempt passport. Most of SA’s major inbound source markets are visa-exempt, including the US, UK and most of Europe.
Otto de Vries, CEO of Asata, said the UBC policy had been detrimental to tourism in South Africa from both an inbound and an outbound perspective. “We strongly advise that policies that require families to carry UBCs are rescinded and rebuilt from the ground up. We encourage discussions between the public and private sector so we can try to understand the concerns of government around safety and security, while also looking at the needs of the travel and tourism sector. This is the only way we will be able to build a meaningful travel culture in our country,” said Otto.
Although the Namibian ministry’s statement (which says incidences and threats of child trafficking are on the rise), was dated April 24, PR officer for the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs, Sakeus Kadhikwa, told Tourism Update that the requirement had actually been in effect since 1993 and fell under Immigration Control Act 7, 1993. He said the information had been released again in order to make public aware of the ministry’s requirements and advise them in terms of regulations.
The Namibian release also states:
*Adults travelling internationally with children who are not their biological offspring are advised to provide an affidavit giving consent for travel from the child’s biological parents or legal guardians.
* If a child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent must provide consent for the child to travel with the parent in question. If one parent is deceased, a copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent should be provided.
*An unaccompanied minor travelling to or from Namibia is also required to produce a letter or affidavit as proof of consent to travel, from one or both parents or legal guardians. A letter from the person who is to receive the child, containing the residential address and contact details where the child will be residing; a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child; and the contact details of the parents or legal guardians of the child must also be provided.
An agent source has confirmed that entries in Timatic reflect the same text regarding immigration/emigration for Namibia.